Days after the meeting between President Donald Trump and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Pentagon has notified the Congress of its decision to approve military sales worth USD 125 million that would result in the monitoring of the F-16 fighter jets of Pakistan.
"The Pentagon notification does not reflect anyresumption of military assistance to Pakistan. USD 125 million is a paltryamount for aircraft and is only for 24×7 monitoring of the fighter jets,"a diplomatic source told PTI.
According to a state department official, there has been nochange to the security assistance suspension announced by the president inJanuary 2018.
"As the president reiterated this week, we could considerthe restoration of certain security assistance programmes consistent with thebroader tenor of our relationship," the official said.
The notification was sent by the Pentagon to the Congress onFriday.
"This proposed sale will support the foreign policy andnational security of the United States by protecting American technologythrough the continued presence of US personnel that provide 24×7 end-usemonitoring," he said.
"The State Department has made a determinationapproving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan for Technical SecurityTeam (TST) in continued support of the F-16 programme for an estimated cost ofUSD 125 million," Defence Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.
According to the statement, Pakistan had requested a continuationof technical support services — the US government and contractor technical andlogistics support services — and other related elements of logistics supportto assist in the oversight of operations in support of the Pakistan Peace Driveadvanced F-16 programme.
Pakistan has used the F-16 fighter jets against India, thelatest being in the aftermath of the Balakot airstrike inside Pakistan byIndia.
The Pentagon asserted that the proposed sale of this supportwill not alter the basic military balance in the region.
"Implementation of this proposed sale will require theassignment of 60 contractor representatives to Pakistan to assist in theoversight of operations as part of the Peace Drive F-16 programme," thestatement said.
According to F-16.Net, the aircraft order by Pakistan wasdesignated as "Peace Drive I", continuing with a long tradition ofnaming the F-16 international sales programmes with the word "Peace".
The programme raised the total number of F-16s ordered by Pakistan to 54. The Pakistan Air Force received its first F-16, in the block 15 F-16A/B configuration, in 1982. The country has been operating the Lockheed Martin aircraft since 1963, when it received C-130B airlifters. The "Peace Drive I" order was for 12 F-16Cs and six F-16Ds, all powered by the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine. PTI